STARTALK Immersion Program

Cohort 2017 - Faculty and Staff

Program Director

Dina MokhnatkinDina Mokhnatkin, M.A.

Director of the STARTALK Russian Language and Culture Immersion Program, Professor Mokhnatkin has an M.A. in Russian Language and Literature and was a Research Fellow in Art and Architecture at the St. Petersburg Museum of History. She has extensive experience in teaching Russian language, literature, civilization and cultural studies at all levels in both the United States and Russia. For the past ten years, Professor Mokhnatkin has been the Director of two Russian Immersion Programs at CSUN – the summer STARTALK Russian Language and Culture Immersion Program and the year-long National Strategic Language Initiative Program (SLI). In addition, she has been the head of a study abroad program for the past 6 years in which students travel to Russia, organizing and coordinating an agreement between California State University, Northridge and the Russian State University for the Humanities in Moscow, Russia. Under her leadership, the program has become coveted throughout the United States and known for its focus, structure, and unprecedented results in achieving fluency in Russian language. Alumni of the program have gone on to employ the Russian language in their future endeavors, from translating at the Russian Winter Olympics in Sochi to teaching English in Russia at the University level while on Fulbright Scholarship. 

Professor Mokhnatkin has also developed new curriculum for her Russian Studies program at California State University, Northridge utilizing her methodology and pedagogical skills. She has created new classes for the program, such as Russian Civilization, Russian Folklore, and Russian Business and Travel. Her topic of interest is the methodology of teaching Russian Language for non-native speakers.

She is very proud of the instructors who have worked with her for the past 9 years, as well as the several former participants of the program that also make up this year’s teaching assistant team.


Tatiana ChapmanTatiana Chapman

Tatiana’s professional experience in the United States includes teaching the Russian language at all levels as well as teaching Russian Literature. She has taught four years as a lecturer of the Intermediate Russian Conversation at the Strategic Languages Initiative program and four years at the STARTALK Russian Language and Culture Immersion Program at California State University, Northridge. Her qualifications include a graduate degree in Liberal Arts from Saint Petersburg which is her native city.

The STARTALK Russian Language and Culture Immersion Program is an excellent and very effective program. She is happy to be a part of the STARTALK Team. 

Tetyana DzyadevychTetyana Dzyadevych 

I am an ABD PhD student in the Department of Slavic and Baltic Languages and Literatures at the University of Illinois at Chicago. I was awarded my first Ph.D. in Eastern European Literatures at the Maria Curie-Sklodowska University in Lublin (Poland). I am currently working on my second Ph.D. dissertation at UIC.

As a scholar I employ interdisciplinary approaches in interpreting literary and cultural phenomena. My current research focuses on connections between national canon development and politics as I analyze how Russian and Ukrainian contemporary literatures reflect upon social and political processes and human rights activism in post-Soviet spaces.

Since I have joined the graduate program at UIC, I have gained significant teaching experience in a U.S. academic setting. As a teaching instructor, I independently taught Russian language courses at all levels offered at UIC, including Russian Literature (both from 19th and 20th centuries) in the original. In addition, I am currently in charge of Russian Conversation Club at the School of Literatures, Cultural Studies, and Linguistic at UIC. In 2014 was a research assistant for the Slavic Basic Language Program Coordinator. I am a devoted teacher and dedicate a lot of time and energy to my students. I am a skilled, seasoned educator and an excellent communicator. I am familiar with communicative teaching practices and know how to use authentic materials and technologies in a foreign-language classroom. I am a teacher oriented toward my students’ needs and interests.

I eager to help them to explore the beauty of language as well as specifics of the target culture.

Teaching at the CSUN Russian Language & Culture Immersion Program was a wonderful adventure, where I could apply all my knowledge and skills teaching students not only language, but helping them to explore their internal potential for communication and creativity

Teaching Assistants

Alena DylyukAlena Dylyuk

I am a graduate student at the California State University, Northridge. I received my undergraduate degree in Marketing and Business Law. During my studies, I was active member and leader in Russian Culture club. I received a certificate for the highest GPA in Russian Minor Program. I was born in Russia. At age of 7 I moved to Belarus and at age of 11 moved to USA.  This summer, I had a chance to work and be part of the STARTALK Russian Language and Culture Immersion Program as teacher assistance. It is very exciting experience to share my culture with students from all over the nation.


Laziz MamatovLaziz Mamatov

I was born and raised in Uzbekistan until the age of 17 and I am fluent in Russian. I like to speak in different languages and believe that Russian will help me in my future career. I am currently working on my bachelors degree in Accounting at California State University of  Northridge since September 2017. In the future I plan to work in the Accounting field by starting my own company, which will help different companies and people.

The STARTALK Russian Language and Culture Immersion Program provides a great learning environment for both staff and students.


Garri MangasarianGarri Mangasarian

I was born and raised in Russia. Almost six years ago my family and I have moved to the United States. At that time, I was 17 years old, but was already determined to become a lawyer. However, I did not know what kind of law I wanted to practice. After graduating Glendale High School in 2013 I decided to attend PCC (Pasadena City College). There I have met many interesting professors, but one of them stood out the most. Can you guess who that was? Of course, it was our beloved and most respected Dina Aleksandrovna. I am very glad that I have met her and she was the one who introduced me to the Startalk program. To be completely honest with you in the beginning I wanted to participate in the program as a student, but as the rules clearly state “Only non-native Russian speakers are eligible to be enrolled in the program as students.” Luckily for me Dina Aleksandrovna told me that I could become one of the TA’s (Teacher Assistants). In this short-term of only 6 weeks I have met many bright minds and enjoyed assisting both students and teachers. The program was really beneficial for me and I am pretty sure that all of the students have enjoyed this learning environment. Almost forgot to mention, not that long ago I have transferred to CSUN (California State University Northridge) and my major is Management. Thank you for reading my short bio и всего вам самого наилучшего (wish you all the best).

Denis SavchenkoDenis Savchenko

I am an undergraduate student at the California State University, Northridge. I am studying Applied Mathematics. I am an active member and leader in Russian Culture club; I am very delighted to share the knowledge of the Russian culture. I was born and raised in Vladivostok, Russia. This summer, I am really glad I got an opportunity to work for the program as a teaching assistant this year. The STARTALK Russian Language and Culture Immersion Program always provides a great learning environment for both the fellow staff and the students.